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The French Question: Where Are French-American Relations Going?



A European Pivot

France has held, for the past 200 years, an important position in both Europe and the world. It is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, a leading nation in the E.U. and has held strong diplomatic relations with many key international powers over the years.

Under President Macron, however, the position seems to be changing. Indeed there is a question of a European pivot away from recent international norms. What we know traditionally as the West is separating itself in foreign interaction from what has been set since almost the beginning of the Cold War. One of the main contributors to this current pivot is France.

A Curious Relationship

The French have had a curious relationship with Russia since the turn of the last century and indeed were important allies prior to the First World War. In fact, the war escalated due to this alliance. During the Cold War, the connections remained, albeit in different ways, with more Soviet Agents working out of Paris than any other foreign city. This is partly due to the number of communist and socialist sympathizers in the country pre and post the Second World War.

Recently though, with the progression of Europe, France seems to be looking for a place in the world at arm's length with the U.S. and is currently increasing cooperation with Russia. This is not to say France has taken serious steps to formalize this, but comments from President Macron are indicative of at least ideas for the future. “Europe can no longer rely on the United States for its security," said Macron.

The aim is apparently for French Security strategy to change course, looking for closer allies than ones across the seas. The question of the European pivot has been developing for some time; continuations in the E.U. to push for a combined army are now in the process of being formalized as well as common security strategies. This, in combination with the reduction of commitment to NATO, all demonstrates that main E.U. member states are not toning down their security measures, merely looking in an alternative direction than the US.

Mother Russia?

The place some in Europe are looking to turn to, and President Macron specifically, is Russia. “On matters like cybersecurity, defense, strategic relationships, we could envisage the outlines of a new relationship between Russia and the EU which is coherent with the direction Europe is headed in,” Macron said.

This specific aim comes during a questionable time period; the dust still has not settled in Ukraine and the Crimea still presents a situation with no- solution energy market influence is on the rise across Europe, with Russia being a leading contributor and European and Russian business interactions and investments stepping up considerably.

One might wonder if the move to Russia is not so much about security matters, but the beginning of a complete geopolitical alignment of France and other parts of Europe in a Eurasian alliance in competition with the U.S. It does mean one thing for certain, the alliances and relationships once set in stone are shifting toward new parameters. The U.S. has been unable to prevent these cracks from occurring, and Europe seems unwilling to take steps as well.

An Upcoming Struggle

The unipolar moment ended a break in the international system that has left nations fighting for their place in the world order. It seems as though, with how the international system is, many of the players are once again looking to position themselves as well as possible for the upcoming struggle.

Whether it is genuinely security concerns, the current Russian encroachments on the energy market or even that Europe is economically looking to challenge the U.S., the Franco-American relationship is not progressing as positively as it might.

Ray Jones / Journalist
I am a Proud Patriot. I have a degree in history and international law with an interest in anthropology. I aim to make Americans realize their greatness!
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